We drive the latest entrant to the Australian 4WD ute market.
LDV, owned by SAIC motors, has a funny family tree. Before the Chinese ownership, there is British and Dutch lineage in the LDV name. I bet Christmas is interesting. Going boldly into country not trodden before by a Chinese-made ute, the LDV T60 has grabbed a top score in the ANCAP testing.
We’ve driven one, and were overall pretty impressed with it. It’s a better vehicle than the Great Wall Steed, that’s for sure. The 2.8-litre diesel only makes 110kW and 360Nm, so it’s outgunned by the Jap-owned, Thai-built competition. But many will like the fact that it’s under-stressed. Performance in one word? Adequate.
It has struts in the front, which are superior to torsion bars. And there are disc brakes in the rear! Where the T60 really scores points is the value for money: Blind Spot Monitor, Hill Descent Control, TPMS, 10-inch screen with Android Auto and Carplay are all there; plus more, on the Pro.
Step up to the Lux, and you’ve got heated electric leather seats, smart key, climate control and an electronic auto-locker. And you’re not paying much. Prices start at $30,516 for a manual Pro, and top out at $36,831 for an auto Lux. Hot tip: Get yourself an ABN, and save at least a couple of grand across the board. The 6-speed automatic is a good on-road performer, but it overrides your manual gear selection when you’re redlining the engine.
Which is okay in most situations, but will give you grief if you’re tackling soft sand, sticky mud or deep water. We could only get Hill Descent Control down to 11km/h at its slowest, which only cuts it for light off-roading. For those reasons, the manual is the better pick for genuine off-road driving; the engine braking is quite good.
The ride and drive are all fairly typical: Soft front end, with a firm rear. Opting for the Lux spec gives you a softer rear spring (but no change in GVM), but damping is definitely on the soft side overall.
So, what’s the general verdict? It’s a good ute. It’s not great, but it does represent great value for money. It’s by far the best Chinese-made ute we’ve driven, and shows what direction quality is heading in with these companies.
We’d love to drive one with some good suspension and a few extra ponies – but the adequate performance you get now will be plenty for lots of buyers out there.